Jupiter String Quartet
November 8, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Minsky Recital Hall
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Jupiter String Quartet

Friday, November 8, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Minsky Recital Hall

The Jupiter String Quartet is a particularly intimate group, consisting of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister), and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law). Now enjoying their 17th year together, this tight-knit ensemble is firmly established as an important voice in the world of chamber music.

The quartet has performed in some of the world’s finest halls, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, Austria’s Esterhazy Palace, and Seoul’s Sejong Chamber Hall. Their major music festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music Festival, Caramoor International Music Festival, Music at Menlo, the Banff Centre, the Seoul Spring Festival, and many others.

Their chamber music honors and awards include the grand prizes in the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City; the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America; an Avery Fisher Career Grant; and a grant from the Fromm Foundation. From 2007-2010, they were in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two. Since 2012, they have been artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where they maintain private studios and direct the chamber music program. The quartet has also held numerous masterclasses for young musicians at universities and festivals throughout the U.S.

The Jupiter String Quartet feels a particular connection to the core string quartet repertoire; they have presented the complete Bartok and Beethoven string quartets on numerous occasions. Also strongly committed to new music, they have commissioned works by Syd Hodkinson, Hannah Lash, Dan Visconti, Mark Adamo, Pierre Jalbert, and Kati Ago?cs.

Their latest album Alchemy (Marquis Classics, 2019) with Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey features world premiere recordings by Pierre Jalbert, Steven Stucky, and Carl Vine. The quartet’s discography also includes numerous recordings on labels including Azica Records, Marquis Classics, and Deutsche Grammophon.

The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four.

For information, visit www.jupiterquartet.com.

Quartet in F Major, Op. 18 No. 1 – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata” – Leoš Janá?ek (1854-1928)
String Quartet No 12, Op. 127 – Beethoven


Please join us!
Pre-performance reception & lecture, presented by the McGillicuddy Humanities Center. UMaine professor Anatole Wieck will conduct the lecture to help you get the most out of seeing the concert. 6:30-6:45-coffee & tea reception; 6:45 – 7:15 lecture; concert- 7:30 p.m. Miller’s Café, located on the first floor of the CCA. Reception will follow the concert.


Program Notes:

Quartet in F Major, Op. 18 No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven

This string quartet is one of a set of six written by Beethoven; the Op. 18 set is considered to be the high point of his early period. The quantity six is significant, since Haydn and Mozart both composed sets of six string quartets. By organizing his quartets in this matter, Beethoven was paying tribute to these composers. However, he was also looking forward, with new innovations and creative techniques.

It is believed that this quartet was actually the second one composed in the set, with the chronological sequence as follows: 3,1, 2, 5, 6, 4. It is likely that Beethoven chose to start the set with this quartet because it is the largest and most dramatic in scope. The first movement is dominated by a motif which musicologist Joseph Kerman described as “a coiled spring, ready to shoot off in all directions.” Beethoven filled a total of sixteen pages in two notebooks with sketches and revisions of this motif before arriving at his simple and concentrated statement. A charming second theme is introduced, which interacts with the dominant motif throughout. Surprisingly, a completely new theme consisting of an ascending scale passage is introduced in the coda, which is combined with the main motif.

According to a conversation that he had with his friend Karl Amanda, Beethoven was thinking of the burial vault scene from Romeo and Juliet as he composed the Adagio movement. Three themes are ingeniously interwoven as Beethoven takes the concept of a development section to new heights. The lilting Scherzo follows, with a witty Trio in which the first violin plays rapidly flowing notes between calm unison passages. The virtuosic and innovatively structured Finale is partly in sonata form, with the development and recapitulation of two contrasting themes, and partly in rondo form, with a repeated theme and complimentary episodes.

String Quartet No. 1, ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ by Leoš Janá?ek

Known for his originality and advocacy of musical nationalism, Leoš Janá?ek was born in Hukvaldy, Moravia and spent time as a choir boy in Brno, where he eventually founded and directed a school for organists. He was also the director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory. His works include several operas, choral works, and chamber works, often infused with characteristics of the folk music of his country.

Other than a string quartet written when he was a student in Vienna (which is now lost), Janá?ek did not compose string quartets until late in life. His String Quartet No. 1 was written in just one week in 1923 at age 69, and the second in 1928, shortly before his death at age 74. The subtitle of this work refers to a novella of the same name by Tolstoy. It tells the story of a woman who is a pianist and trapped in an abusive marriage; her performance of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata with a violinist kindles feelings of jealousy and rage in her husband. When he returns home from a business trip a few days later to find his wife and the violinist together, he murders her.

This work was first performed by the Czech Quartet in Prague on October 24, 1924. The composer Joseph Suk, who was second violinist in the quartet, reportedly stated that “Janá?ek meant the work to be a kind of moral protest against men’s despotic attitude to women. Thus, while Tolstoy in the Kreutzer Sonata ascribes to music ‘the most immoral effect’, Janá?ek in his Quartet uses music to the exact opposite effect– as the voice of the conscience of humanity.”

Rather than retelling Tolstoy’s story through music, Janá?ek explores the emotions that the characters experience. The restless opening movement is full of yearning and unresolved tension. The second movement begins in a somewhat lighthearted vein, although the merriness is soon interrupted with eerie effects and unsettling tempo changes. In the third movement, one hears veiled musical references to the second theme from the first movement of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, with disconcerting interruptions. The finale can be heard as a depiction of the husband’s jealous anger and resentment, building to an anguished and tormented climax.   

String Quartet No. 12, Op. 127 by Ludwig van Beethoven

In November of 1822, the Russian nobleman Nikolai Galitzin sent a letter to Beethoven from St. Petersburg. As an amateur cellist and admirer of the composer, he wrote, “. . .I am taking the liberty of writing to you to ask if you would be willing to compose one, two or three new quartets. I shall be delighted to pay you for the trouble whatever amount you would deem adequate.” Beethoven agreed to compose three quartets, but did not begin them until he had completed the Missa Solemnis, the Diabelli Variations, and the Ninth Symphony.  It had been twelve years since Beethoven had composed a string quartet, but he spent a good portion of the last years of his life composing the three quartets for Galitzin (Opp. 127, 130 and 132), and two additional quartets (Opp. 131 and 135) without commission.

Beethoven composed Opus 127, the first of his late quartets, between May 1824 and February 1825. The Schuppanzigh Quartet played the premiere performance on March 6, 1825 in Vienna. Unfortunately, they had only two weeks to rehearse, and the performance did not go smoothly. Beethoven decided to try again, this time with Joseph Böhm at the helm of the quartet. Although Beethoven was completely deaf by this time, he coached the group by watching their bowing and finger movements. The second performance on March 26, 1825 was more successful, and nine additional performances took place over the next few weeks.

Like Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Emperor Piano Concerto, this quartet is in the key of E flat major. It begins with a maestoso introduction of just six measures before the Allegro section begins, to be played “soft and sweetly, tenderly”.  The Adagio movement is a set of five sublimely innovative variations, followed by the energetic, whirling Scherzando vivace. The Finale, with no tempo indication, is usually played at a lively speed. The lyrical first theme contrasts with the jagged and accented second theme, followed by a coda in a new tempo, key and meter, bringing the quartet to an uplifting conclusion.

Author and violist Melvin Berger describes Beethoven’s late string quartets as “. . .music that transcends music, that even transcends human feelings and thoughts, to achieve a spiritual level above all worldly concerns.”

Adult $36 | K-12 students free when accompanied by at least one paying adult | All fees included


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